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Ralph sorry for venting on teen page Klein health proposal a hot potato (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

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WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 2006.03.02 A3 Canada Wire 563

CNS Kelly Cryderman EDMONTON −−Alberta Premier Ralph Klein made a formal apology in the provincial legislature yesterday after he vented his "frustration" over health care by hurling a Liberal policy booklet at a young page. Jennifer Huygen, 17, had delivered the health−care policy document to the premier at the request of the Liberal party during a heated question period debate over Klein's controversial health policy framework. Upon realizing what it was, Klein called the soft−cover booklet "crap" and threw it at Huygen. TV footage at the exact moment of the incident is not available and there are conflicting statements as to whether it actually hit Huygen. She would not comment to reporters. Politically speaking, all eyes in Canada are on Klein, who has introduced health reforms which would allow patients to pay for faster access to some medical procedures. "I'm interested to see what the Government of Canada's going to do," Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said last night.. "People shouldn't be able to access health care on the basis of wealth," the Manitoba premier said. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called on Harper to block Alberta's plans. McGuinty said Ontario's health reforms, unlike Alberta's, are aimed at all citizens, "not just those who can afford to jump to the front of the queue." McGuinty's health minister, George Smitherman, went one step further, saying Alberta's plans amount to a "pretty deliberate" attempt to circumvent the Canada Health Act. The reforms would allow the public to pay out of their pockets for non−essential surgeries, including hips, knees, cataracts and possibly hernia, according to Alberta Health officials. But as soon as it was released, critics warned it violated the Canada Health Act and could force a showdown with Ottawa, especially since Harper has vowed to protect the venerable act, which sets out accessibility and other public health−care principles. Even Klein admitted Tuesday the proposals could "perhaps" change the face of medicare as Canadians know it −− if they're agreed to by his legislature. Yesterday, however, he gave mixed messages, saying the last thing he wants to do is contravene the Canada Health Act. "All we're doing is consulting. And, you know, I'm no doctor, but I think that Mr. McGuinty's got a case of premature speculation," he said about the Ontario premier's comments. 125

03/02/2006

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